Two pro-life groups filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser over an incident earlier this year in which activists were arrested for trying to write a chalk message in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic.
The arrests came after activists attempted to write "Black Pre-born Lives Matter" in chalk on the sidewalk, but were arrested. The message echoed the "Black Lives Matter" message authorized to be painted on the street near the White House by the mayor herself. Activists added "Defund the Police" to the message, which was left on the street for weeks before quietly being removed by the city.
"The bottom line is that D.C. is discriminating against certain viewpoints by allowing some voices to be heard and others to be punished," Denise Harle, a senior counsel at the free speech nonprofit group Alliance Defending Freedom, who is representing the groups, told the Washington Examiner.
The incident occurred in August when the two activists showed up at the clinic. They had sought permission from the mayor's office to chalk the message on the sidewalk, but had not received a response. So they asked a police officer and received permission, according to a complaint filed by the Frederick Douglass Foundation and Students for Life of America.
Other officers on the scene told the activists they would be arrested if they proceeded. They did so anyway, and were taken into custody.
"Members of the Plaintiff organizations were arrested for merely chalking a small message, comprising not even half the width of the public sidewalk, with washable sidewalk chalk," the complaint reads. "The Plaintiffs were completely unable to communicate their message that 'Black Pre-Born Lives Matter' in a manner identical to the 'Black Lives Matter' and 'Defund the Police' murals painted in permanent yellow paint on the public streets of the District."
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